Landowners could be held liable for the costs of cleaning up any contamination caused by fracking under their land

Landowners could be held liable for the costs of cleaning up any contamination caused by fracking under their land if the shale gas company becomes insolvent, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
The shale industry fears that this liability could deter landowners from cooperating with companies and is lobbying ministers to change the law to grant them an exemption.

The industry wants the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to be amended to remove liability of landowners for contamination caused by drilling under their land.


The explosion of hydraulic fracturing in the last several years, according to a new report, is creating a previously ‘unimaginable’ situation in which hundreds of billions of gallons of the nation’s fresh water supply are being annually transformed into unusable – sometimes radioactive – cancer-causing wastewater.

According to the report, Fracking by the Numbers, produced by Environment America, the scale and severity of fracking’s myriad impacts betray all claims that natural gas is a “cleaner” or somehow less damaging alternative to other fossil fuels.

The report explores various ways in which gas fracking negatively impacts both human health and the environment, including the contamination of drinking water, overuse of scarce water sources, the effect of air pollution on public health, its connection to global warming, and the overall cost imposed on communities where fracking operations are located.

“The bottom line is this: The numbers on fracking add up to an environmental nightmare,” said John Rumpler, the report’s lead author and senior attorney for Environment America. “For our environment and for public health, we need to put a stop to fracking.”

In fact, the report concludes that in state’s where the practice is now occurring, immediate moratoriums should be enacted and in states where the practice has yet to be approved, bans should be legislated to prevent this kind of drilling from ever occurring.

Though the report acknowledges its too early to know the full the extent of the damage caused by the controversial drilling practice, it found that even a look at the “limited data” available – taken mostly from industry reports and government figures between 2005 and 2012 – paints “an increasingly clear picture of the damage that fracking has done to our environment and health.”

So what are the numbers?

The report measured key indicators of fracking threats across the country, and found:

• 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater generated in 2012,

• 450,000 tons of air pollution produced in one year,

• 250 billion gallons of fresh water used since 2005,

• 360,000 acres of land degraded since 2005,

• 100 million metric tons of global warming pollution since 2005.

“The numbers don’t lie,” said Rumbpler. “Fracking has taken a dirty and destructive toll on our environment. If this dirty drilling continues unchecked, these numbers will only get worse.”

The Environment America report comes on the heels of a study released by researchers at Duke University earlier this week that found a “surprising magnitude of radioactivity” in the local water near a fracking operation in Pennsylvania.

And Climate Progress adds:

The report also pointed out the weaknesses of current wastewater disposal practices – wastewater is often stored in deep wells, but over time these wells can fail, leading to the potential for ground and surface water contamination. In New Mexico alone, chemicals from oil and gas pits have contaminated water sources at least 421 times, according to the report.

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